52. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.

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I was having lunch recently with a dear friend who was going through a hard time and I askedprayer her if she prayed. She said she hadn’t really done so in awhile and I told her that I prayed most every night. I didn’t always. My parents for various reasons didn’t bring me up in a religious environment and I never felt like I was missing that much. I was definitely on the agnostic side in my teens and 20s. But I think the person that changed all that was my stepmom. While she didn’t go to church, she had a very strong faith and prayed a lot. And she would always let me know that she was praying for me. Somehow, no matter what I was struggling with, whether it was my intense fear of getting on an airplane after 911 or the nervousness of interviewing for a dream job or having my heart broken by some guy who didn’t deserve my tears, I knew she was praying for me. So somewhere in my 30s, I can’t pinpoint when, I decided I’d give it a try, too. And once I did, I noticed my life changed in many positive ways. I don’t know if that was just a coincidence, but I tend to think not. As my friend and I talked more about prayer, she asked me what I prayed for. I thought that was a good question, because in the beginning, I didn’t know how to pray and I didn’t know whom to ask. Was there a secret formula? I did ask a few spiritual friends and they helped me a lot by giving me some structure. So if it helps, and you’re wondering how to pray, like I was when I first started, here’s my conversation with God every night (well, most every night – sometimes I fall asleep – then find myself apologizing the next morning):

Dear Lord,

Thank you for my beautiful cat who is so nice and loving and sweet and is such a good boy. (If my cat is sitting next to me, I might meow to him).

Thank you for _____________________________________(three to five good things that happened today – even if it was the worst day ever – did I see the clouds? Hear the birds? Have a stranger smile at me?)

Please watch over our brave troops and bring them home safely to their families and friends. And please watch over their brave, beautiful dogs.

Please protect the animals and help me to protect them, too.

Please give us LOTS of rain. (I live in Southern California)

Please watch over my family and friends.

Please watch over and guide ______________________________________(I say specific names of family members and friends and what they are struggling with)

Please watch over me personally and professionally (I give examples of where I need guidance)

Please watch over those I’ve loved (I list the names of all the people and pets who have passed in my life)

Thank you for everything Lord, I am truly grateful.

So I told my friend that I would pray for her. And I think that made her feel better. I often want to tell people that I’ll pray for them, but not knowing they’re religious affiliation, sometimes I feel weird doing so. Instead, I mostly say, “I’ll think the good thoughts for you.” It’s always nice to hear when those good thoughts are answered for me and my family and friends – not to mention, the world in general.

For some more ideas, you can check out: http://www.spiralgoddess.com/InterFaith_Daily_Prayers.html

Word to the wise: A little prayer goes a long way. I’ve seen the power of prayer in my own life and those of others. Even if you’re skeptical, how can it hurt?

Have you always prayed? Are there any prayers you’d like to share? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

51. Meditate to calm your mind and heal your spirit.

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The wounds in our 20s can be many. It’s a time we’re at our most vulnerable and we exposeMeditation ourselves to new friendships, dating and career experiences, while trying to sever ties with our parents. When I think back on my twenties, I wonder how I got out of them alive. One thing I wish I had known more about back then was meditation. All I remember is working three jobs, going to college and getting my heart broken time and time again. I probably would have laughed if someone had said, “Sit in silence for 20 minutes a day and repeat a positive mantra, such as “Love is the only miracle there is.” I think just the thought of sitting alone and being quiet probably is the part that would have scared me to death. Here are some other common fears about meditation:

It takes too much time. 

The most common concern potential meditators express is that they’re afraid they won’t have time to meditate. They think they’re too busy, and that finding even 20 minutes twice a day isn’t possible. This belief in a lack of time really stems from a misunderstanding of the value of meditation. In fact, we can always find 20 minutes for something we believe is important or valuable.

It’s too hard to concentrate. 

Another misconception is that people feel that their minds are just too scattered or too stressed to meditate. In actuality, every engaged and responsible person in the modern world has a somewhat over stimulated and stressed mind. But this nature of the mind to move from one thought to another is in fact the very basis of meditation.

It will make me lose my edge. 

The third most common misconception is that meditation is for people without real problems and responsibilities. They are afraid that meditation will make less effective in dealing with difficult and challenging life situations. There’s the fear that in being relaxed and at peace, they will lose their edge and effectiveness. In fact, meditation prepares us for dynamic activity.

Learn more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/3-common-fears-of-new-meditators?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=n%2Fa&utm_content=Newsletter%20150317&utm_campaign=March#sthash.cTLNALSo.dpuf

So as part of my Morning Miracle (See last week’s post: http://wisebefore25.com/2015/03/11/50-become-a-morning-person/), I’m adding meditation to my yoga practice. Because it has many mind and body benefits, which have been scientifically proven. Through meditation you can:

  • Reduce your stress.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Decrease any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems.
  • Increase serotonin production to improve your mood and behavior.
  • Improve your immune system.
  • Feel like your da bomb! (A friend of mine said I was never aloud to say “da bomb” again but writing it is different than saying it, right?)

Of course, it does also help to have a mantra. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Ham-Sah” – The Hindu variant, meaning I am THAT.
  • “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi
  • “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.” – Laura Silva

If you’d like to see some more mantras, check out http://www.finerminds.com/spirituality/mantras-for-meditation/

So, I know we’re all stressed and never more so than now, but if we can find 20 minutes a day to meditate, I think we’ll all be in a better place and those around us will benefit, too.

Word to the wise: Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. One of the easiest mantras ever and if you say it to yourself for 20 minutes, you’ll feel like you can take on the next 20 hours.

Do you meditate? What are some of your favorite mantras? How do you concentrate? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

50. Become a morning person.

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I am not one. Never have been one. There is probably nothing more that I hate than getting up inrelaxation the morning. Or for that matter, all day. To give you an idea of how I feel about getting out of my warm bed every day, here’s one of my favorite poems, by the brilliant Dorothy Parker called “Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom:”

Daily dawns another day;

I must up, to make my way.

Though I dress and drink and eat,

Move my fingers and my feet,

Learn a little, here and there,

Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,

Hear a song, or watch a stage,

Leave some words upon a page,

Claim a foe, or hail a friend-

Bed awaits me at the end.

 

Though I go in pride and strength,

I’ll come back to bed at length.

Though I walk in blinded woe,

Back to bed I’m bound to go.

High my heart, or bowed my head,

All my days but lead to bed.

Up, and out, and on;

and then
 Ever back to bed again,

Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall-

I’m a fool to rise at all!

But my strategy of sleeping as late as could just didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere anymore. I was envious of morning people and knew the world secretly envied them, too. I always heard, “Oh morning people get so much more done.” “They’re so productive.” And of course, at the office, who doesn’t love the guy who calls a 7 a.m. meeting? Well, I still probably wouldn’t love that guy.

So here’s what I’m doing and I started today. I found a book called “The Miracle Morning” – http://miraclemorning.com. Here’s an excerpt that really resonated for me:

How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days—which inevitably create a successful life—in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.

So, I set my iPhone alarm for six a.m. and prayed some good would come of it. I also used a few tips from the book to keep myself going (and some timeframes I’ve assigned for each):

  1. Turn on the lights (30 seconds to a minute, depending on how groggy I am)
  2. Brush teeth and splash cold water on face (Two to five minutes)
  3. Get dressed (Two to five minutes)
  4. Do some yoga or other form of exercise (15 minutes)
  5. Read some inspirational books or quotes (5-10 minutes)
  6. Write something in a journal (5 minutes)
  7. Drink water (ongoing)
  8. Don’t eat right away – it will slow you down (I get up at 6 so I’ll wait until 8)
  9. Work on my blog and/or my YA novel (60 minutes)
  10. Don’t go back to bed (still struggling with this one!) (All day)

And most important, do this for 30 days. Because, it takes 30 days for anything to become habit.

I see that it’s actually getting light out. I’ve enjoyed these moments of quiet repose and the chance to sit down and write without distractions. The day will begin soon enough at 8 a.m. but in the meantime, I’ve got 20 more glorious minutes to work on this post. Am I a morning person yet? I just might be. Who’s in with me?

Word to the wise: The right morning can make your day. Why not give yourself every opportunity to be successful? I encourage you try it.

Are you a morning person? Do you have any secrets and tips to help those of us who aren’t? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

49. Calling is for men, texting is for teenagers.

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What a stinger from Patti Stanger, a.k.a., “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” If you’ve ever 5d6a3bc5fcddfdebff9891850f78d127_width_640xwatched her show, you could say she’s kind of “old school” when it comes to dating. And mostly, so am I. Because I think in some ways, with women’s liberation, my generation and those that followed me got the short end of the stick. Men think we don’t need them anymore or that they don’t need to pursue us, because many of us will do their job for them. This is especially true in the case of young women. When social media is the norm and everyone is available every minute of every day via text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapfish, etc., our communications with men become less special and I think we do, too. There was a time when we only had phones, you know the ones that had dials on them? Back then, it was generally easier to discern a man’s level of interest after a date. If you didn’t hear from him for a few days, or let’s say a week, you were fairly sure you wouldn’t hear from him again and said to yourself, “Next!” Today, the lines are so blurred. Even if someone isn’t that interested after a date, you might not know it. Texting breeds a kind of familiarity that if you don’t know someone, shouldn’t be there until you do. And it goes further than that. I’ve seen the most inappropriate texts between husbands and wives arguing over the most major issues in their marriage! It’s a great escape, isn’t it? You don’t have to cancel a date with someone by calling them, you don’t have to get to know someone by spending time with them and you certainly don’t have to be that interested to keep stringing someone along. And most important, you don’t have to talk to anyone!

Here are some more wise thoughts from a fellow blogger on dating in the digital age:

“While it seems more comfortable and convenient to communicate with friends via electronic messaging, it is actually a less effective way to establish a meaningful relationship. Conversations are shortchanged when you rely on texting, because you miss the emotional complexity that takes place in a face to face interaction.” You can read more of her thoughts at http://onceuponastruggle.com/2015/01/26/the-relationship-failure-of-the-digital-age/

Word to the wise: Real men may not eat quiche, but if they like you, they will call. Never forget that your voice is something truly special. And the guy you’re dating should want to hear it.

What do you think about dating in the digital age? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

48. Find your creativity.

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This can be hard to do at any age. So often, by the time we’re in our late teens and early 20s, theCreative expectations of others get in the way of who we are and who we want to be. Some of us go to college and get a degree in something we’re not that excited about, or some of us drift through our 20s, trying to find a sense of purpose. A few will follow their dream and get knocked down or succeed. The beauty is, creativity is there for the taking, no matter where you are in your life. I believe we are all creative people and there are many ways it can be expressed. Here are a few things creative people have in common:

They see inspiration in everything. Creative spirits become inspired by anything and everything, from an unusual pattern on a leaf to the bright lights of a city at night. They see the world as their oyster, and have a knack for finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

They practice self-development. Imaginative people know that a foggy, unproductive, negative brain will block their creativity and not allow them to express themselves fully. They read self-help books, practice mindfulness, meditate, do yoga, and say positive affirmations. (See http://wisebefore25.com/2014/12/31/46-resolutions-can-be-daunting-affirmations-are-self-empowering/)

They have a “yes” mentality. They say yes to life, because they know this will create more opportunities for them. They do things even when they’re scared or unsure – they realize that momentum coupled with a positive attitude create the perfect mixture for exciting things to happen. If you’d like to see more traits of creative people, read this enlightening article:         http://www.powerofpositivity.com/25-things-creative-people-differently/

I for one am going to get started on another entry for this blog! And make a new recipe from the “Cooking with Everything Trader Joe’s” cookbook http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-With-Things-Trader-Cookbook/dp/0979938481 – the Chicken Marsala Casserole on page 156 looks tantalizing.

Word to the wise: Whether it’s visiting a museum, making your favorite recipe or writing the Great American Novel, do something for your soul today. You know, just walking through a store like Urban Outfitters or Anthropolgie makes me feel more creative. Of course, writing this blog helps, too!

What inspires you? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

47. Nothing says “thank you” like a thank you card.

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Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to have some special people in my life do some very nice, unexpected things for me. And wouldn’t you know it, I was all out of thank-you cards. In my 20s, IThank you post think the only time I sent a thank you note was after a job interview. Thankfully, I realized how important it is to be thoughtful. I also learned that a hand-written thank you card not only acknowledges the person to whom you are thankful to; it also acknowledges how special you are. Just taking the time to buy and write them shows that you are grateful and acknowledge the giving of others and opens you up to receiving more. I know that’s waxing a little philosophical, but I couldn’t help but think it when I finally bought three sets of stunning cards at Papyrus. There’s something to be said about going into the store, which I did. Here are a few you can check out online:

http://www.papyrusonline.com/occasion/thank-you.html

While it may take more time and effort than simply shooting someone an email or text, I think it’s worth it. In fact, I’m looking forward to when I’ll have to go out and buy some more.

Word to the wise: Bring more gratitude into your life by buying some really nice thank you cards – and sending them. If you’ve ever received one, you know what I mean. It makes my day and it will make someone else’s, too.

Have you written any thank you cards recently? Who were you thanking and why? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

46. Resolutions can be daunting. Affirmations are self-empowering.

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It’s New Year’s Eve and no doubt, many of us are thinking about our resolutions for 2015. It’s no New Year's Evesurprise that losing weight tops all of the lists and surveys. As I got to thinking of resolutions of my own (although I stopped calling them “resolutions” years ago) I felt like I had to dig deeper. This year needed to be different. In years past, I’d write a list of goals and generally accomplish them. Last year, I flew by the seat of my pants and just had a few thoughts. One of which, was getting back into and committing to my yoga practice. Without writing it down, I was able to do that and I’m so glad I did. During the last class of this year, one of my favorite instructors imparted her wisdom regarding intentions for the New Year. She said we could make affirmations about what we want in our lives and that even if we made only one – that would be enough. I wondered if there was only one thing that I wanted in my life in 2015 and I had to affirm it, what would it be? I had an immediate idea but wanted to make sure I chose just the right words (yes, I am a writer and probably a bit of a nut). So I went online and found some nifty affirmations. I really enjoyed quite a few of these: https://www.pinterest.com/christieinge/positive-affirmations-for-women/ I actually found one that said what I wanted to affirm in a way that I wanted to say it:

I deserve relationships that thrive.

Here are a few others I thought were worthwhile:

I am willing to have my own back.

I am patient with myself and worthy of all the waiting.

I choose to let go of the OLD so that I can finally start making progress with the NEW path I want to take in my life.

In my 20s, I always celebrated the New Year in a big way and wrote down resolutions that I actually sometimes kept. I think if you’re a young woman today, it helps to think positively and visualize what you see for yourself in the New Year and years ahead. Of course, a great party to celebrate your affirmations doesn’t hurt either! Wishing you all a happy, healthy and successful New Year. Cheers!

Word to the wise: One positive affirmation is worth 10 resolutions. As we say in the ad biz, keep it simple. And if it starts to work for you, why not try a few more?

What is your affirmation for 2015? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”